Friday, September 26, 2014

Beautiful WebGL Globes

WebGL Globes are a fantastic way to visualize all kinds of global and astronomical data, from Earth weather to orbiting satellites and space debris. A couple of years ago the Google Data Arts team released the WebGL Globe as an open platform for geographic data visualization and since then we have seen some great examples of data visualizations built open this 3d globe code.

Orbital Objects uses the WebGL Globe code to show the position of active and inactive satellites and space debris orbiting the Earth. Active satellites are displayed in green, inactive satellites in grey and the red points show space debris.

The WebGL Weather Globe uses the WebGL Globe to display current weather conditions around the world. The weather data is very basic and I don't think the cloud imagery is real-time. However the sun icons do provide a basic indication of weather across the globe.

Visualizing Meteorites across Spatial & Temporal Attributes is another neat example of the WebGL Globe in action. This globe shows meteorite collisions with the Earth by decade. You can select to view a decade using the timeline at the top of the page.

The mass of each meteorite is represented by the size of the cylindrical projection and the color of the projection indicates the meteorite type.

Of course globes don't have to just visualize the Earth. How about Earth & Mars, Mars on its own, or the Earth and Moon.

If you want to see more - Google has linked to 36 of these WebGL Globe experiments on the Chrome Experiments website.

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